Miniature pigs are useful model animals for humans because they have similar anatomy and digestive physiology to humans and are easy to breed and handle. In this study, whole blood microarray analyses were conducted to evaluate variations of correlation among individuals and ages using specific pathogen-free (SPF) Clawn miniature pigs. Whole blood RNA is easy to handle compared to isolated white blood cell RNA and can be used for health and disease monitoring and animal control. In addition, whole blood is a heterogeneous mixture of subpopulation cells. Once a great change occurs in composition and expressing condition of subpopulations, their associated change will be reflected on whole blood RNA. From 12 to 30 weeks of age, fractions of lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils in white blood cells showed insignificant differences with age as a result of ANOVA analysis. This study attempted to identify characteristics of age-related gene expression by taking into account the change in the number of expressed genes by age and similarities of gene expression intensity between individuals. As a result, the number of expressed genes was less in fetal stage and infancy period but increased with age, reaching a steady state of gene expression after 20 weeks of age. Variation in gene expression intensity within the same age was great in fetal stage and infancy period, but converged with age. The variation between 20 and 30 weeks of age was comparable to that among 30 weeks individuals. These results indicate that uniformity of laboratory animals is expected for miniature pigs after 20 weeks of age. Furthermore, a possibility was shown that whole blood RNA analysis is applicable to evaluation of physiological state.
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